NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2022" -- voted on by the players themselves -- kicked off on Sunday, Aug. 14. Players ranked 100-51 were revealed Sunday over the course of five hours, with each one-hour episode unveiling a new set of 10 honorees.
The 10th-ranked quarterback in the players' list, Kyler Murray, was revealed in Episode 5 (Nos. 60-51) at No. 57. With that in mind, former NFL wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. provides his ranking of the top 10 QBs heading into the 2022 NFL season.
Prescott nabbed the final spot in my top 10, getting the nod over nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray. There are few truly elite quarterbacks, but a lot of very good ones. I had to leave talented players off this list -- and right now, I'd take any of the guys here over Wilson or Murray. It's that simple. You're welcome to disagree, but I'm moving on ...
Dak has been a model of consistency at the quarterback position for the Cowboys, setting a number of franchise records since taking the reins as a rookie in 2016. The two-time Pro Bowler is coming off one of his best seasons, setting career highs in completion percentage (68.8) and passing touchdowns (37), the latter of which was also a franchise record. Prescott flourished in Mike McCarthy's system and led the league's No. 1 scoring and total offense on the way to his third playoff appearance. The postseason is where it gets a little dicey for Prescott, who's 53-32 in the regular season but 1-3 in the playoffs. Balling out in January is the next step forward for Dak.
Jackson's absence down the stretch, which ultimately led to the Ravens missing the playoffs for the first time in the Lamar era, proves his worth -- and could result in a BIG payday for the former MVP. Often the most dynamic player on the field, Jackson is the centerpiece of one of the best rushing attacks in the league and has improved as a passer this offseason, according to his offensive coordinator Greg Roman. His development throwing the ball downfield and vs. the blitz will be key in the Ravens' offensive success this season.
There's a lot going on with Watson right now -- all of which I take very seriously. Scheduled to start the Browns' preseason opener on Friday, which will be his first game action in nearly 600 days, Watson is, as of now, suspended for the first six games of the regular season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. (The league is appealing the length of the suspension, so Watson could ultimately miss more than six games.) A lot can change between now and the start of the regular season, so I'll make this short and sweet. Off-field issues aside, when simply looking at Watson's on-field ability, he is one of the NFL's best quarterbacks because he just plays the position extremely well in every capacity. His all-around skill set as a dual-threat playmaker gives any team he's on a chance. Watson has the arm talent, football IQ and athletic ability to win.
Stafford proved to be the missing piece for the Rams, guiding the team to a Super Bowl title during his first year in Los Angeles. The veteran had been a good -- even great, at times -- quarterback with the Lions, but now he is in the perfect scheme and has the players around him to reach new heights. There is one concern heading into his 14th season: the "bad tendinitis" in his throwing elbow that's prevented him from being a full participant in training camp. Hopefully it doesn't linger into the season.
After taking the league by storm as the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Herbert took a big step forward in 2021, leading the Chargers to top-five finishes in scoring (fifth) and total offense (fourth). His 5,014 pass yards were second only to Tom Brady, while his 38 pass TDs finished third behind Brady and Matthew Stafford. Herbert comes into his third season as a legitimate MVP candidate. He has the mental makeup, skill set and offensive weapons to win the award while earning his first postseason bid.
Burrow led the NFL in completion percentage (70.4) and yards per attempt (8.9) last season. Impressive stuff, considering it was his first season off an ACL injury and he was sacked a whopping 70 times (including the playoffs). Burrow's swagger, toughness and ability to step up in the big moment -- combined with his athletic ability and leadership qualities -- are big reasons why the Bengals made a Super Bowl run. Could last year's Comeback Player of the Year be this year's Most Valuable Player? Burrow has a legitimate shot with his supporting cast. The fact that he isn't currently practicing after having an appendectomy shouldn't be a factor come Week 1; there's still plenty of time for him to find his groove.
Was any quarterback playing better football last January than Josh Allen? Not a chance. He had a 149.0 passer rating and 9:0 TD-to-INT ratio in Buffalo's two playoff games. What I've seen from Allen up to this point -- on and off the field -- tells me he's ready to take the Bills to the Promised Land and win a league MVP award along the way. It helps that he has equally hungry teammates in Stefon Diggs and others, but make no mistake: The Bills are enjoying success because of Allen and his otherworldly abilities.
The Chiefs have fielded the NFL's No. 1 scoring and total offense since Mahomes took the starting reins in 2018, with the quarterback racking up a 49-13 record in the process. There's simply no ceiling when it comes to Mahomes' ability and where he can take this team -- even without Tyreek Hill. This fall will present a new test for the 26-year-old signal-caller, but who's going to be shocked if the Chiefs are playing in the AFC Championship Game for the fifth straight year? No one. That's who.
That avocado ice cream is working. The 45-year-old quarterback is at the top of his game, finishing in the top three in pass attempts, yards and touchdowns in each of his two seasons with the Bucs.
- 2021: 719 pass attempts (first in NFL), 5,316 pass yards (first), 43 pass TDs (first).
- 2020: 610 pass attempts (second), 4,633 pass yards (third), 40 pass TDs (tied for second).
Watching Brady is something else. He's still throwing the ball fluidly with precision and accuracy -- and on top of that, he enters the season with the best receiving corps in the league. I don't anticipate TB12 taking a step back in 2022, even with his extended absence during the preseason. In fact, after weighing how he's looked in practice and his recent success on the field, it feels like the G.O.A.T. might just play forever.
How do you not put the back-to-back MVP at the top of this list? Now with four league MVPs to his name, Rodgers is on an incredible run with 13 wins in each of the last three seasons. In 2021, he led the NFL in passer rating (111.9) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (37:4). The 38-year-old's at the height of his powers, with more precision, confidence and command of the offense than at any other point in his career. The individual success Rodgers has enjoyed of late feels second to none, but this season presents a whole new challenge, as he's working with an unheralded cast of receivers following Davante Adams' relocation to Las Vegas. Rodgers is adamant he wants to win another Super Bowl before he hangs up his cleats. To do that, he'll need to be as good as ever to bring the offense along. That said, I wouldn't bet against him.
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